‘Money mule’ scam targets job seekers

Tuesday, 29 March, 2011

A new online scam has emerged that targets job seekers, turns them into inadvertent mules for money launderers and hands their personal information to cybercriminals, according to information security vendor Symantec.

“If someone has been out of work for months, looking diligently for a job, when a potential employer finally contacts them they tend to think they’ve stumbled upon a great opportunity,” a statement from Symantec read.

“In reality, they could have just been targeted by cybercriminals. This means they are now at risk to lose money they have in the bank, or even possibly get into legal trouble,” it continued.

According to Symantec, scammers look for targets on legitimate recruiting sites. The scammers email their marks offering the position of a ‘Payment Processing Agent’.

If the target responds to the email, they will be asked for personal information, or even offered money to provide their bank account details. This exchange is presented as some sort of mandatory test to be eligible for the position.

In reality, these victims are acting as ‘money mules’ - people who funnel money through their own bank account in order to obscure money trails from authorities.

On top of inadvertently becoming accessories to money laundering, these victims have also handed their own personal information and bank account details to cybercriminals, who can use that information to steal their identity or gain unlimited access their bank account.

More information including examples of the scam is available on Symantec’s Response Team blog or the blog of Symantec staff member Marian Merritt.

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